The worm that is threatening to starve Africa

WINDHOEK – Authorities in NAMIBIA say they are ready to deal with any possible outbreak of the dreaded fall armyworm that has devastated crops in other AFRICAN nations.

The Chief Agricultural Scientific Officer at the Department of Plant Health Control has told NBC News field operatives will be using THREE different types of pesticides to destroy the insects.

EDDIE HASHEELA says they will further strengthen the campaign by reinforcing the chemicals with equipment that is able to trap the fast-moving worms on a large scale.

He says the agricultural workers will employ the traps to attract the male worms in areas where people will have spotted them, and their destruction will disturb their reproduction.

Mr HASHEELA predicts another outbreak of the Fall Armyworm when rainfall increases as weather experts have forecast, but says he is optimistic no major damage will befall crops in the SADC country.

The new move against armyworms this year comes after the previous season witnessed a massive invasion of fields by great swarms of the caterpillars.

NBC News says they caused havoc in most of the northern and north-eastern areas of NAMIBIA, where they destroyed crops and left families without enough food.

However, it also quotes Mr HASHEELA as saying the country will not be able to eradicate the caterpillars overnight; hence, there is need to prepare to battle the armyworms for a few more years.

He has called on farmers to acquire the necessary pesticides and spray them while the worms are still young, in order to stop them from developing resistance to the chemicals as they grow.

In another development, the authorities say they can now test all genetically modified organisms entering NAMIBIA as part of food products, to verify their safety for human consumption.

NBC News says the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology has opened a laboratory for the testing of such products before they reach the market.

Commission Board Chairperson NORTIN TITUS says the laboratory will serve as a means to ensure genetically modified organisms traded in NAMIBIA conform to specifications.

Higher Education Research and Innovation Director LISHO MUNDIA has launched the laboratory at a ceremony in the capital, WINDHOEK, saying it is vital for such a facility in a developing country.

He says the lab, completed last year, will ensure safety of GMOs to human and animal life as well as environmental protection; and it will be a research and training facility in different fields.

The expert says NAMIBIA had all along relied on foreign centres and expertise to test genetically modified organisms, but the country decided to have its own laboratory FOUR years ago – when construction began./Sabanews/cam



DAVOS – The new government of ZIMBABWE says it is making headway in its quest to return the SADC country into the global economic arena, with scores of key players in world politics reportedly warming up to President EMMERSON MNANGAGWA.


The 75-year-old Head of State, now TWO months at the wheel, has attended the 48TH World Economic Forum in the SWISS Municipality of DAVOS; where he has assured would-be investors his government wishes to change the way of doing business.

He has told TV-7 in a live interview ZIMBABWE wants to embrace the rest of the world and expects the international community to embrace the country in return.

President MNANGAGWA says his economically battered nation is ready for investments and is aware of the need to find ways to re-engage the rest of the globe, but it also realises capital will only go where it feels comfortable.

He says his administration will therefore find out what is required to convince the international community to accept ZIMBABWE as a suitable investment destination.

President MNANGAGWA has further pledged to hold free, fair and non-violent elections before JULY this year, saying he will respect the outcome even if his ruling ZANU PF loses the polls.

While the previous regime of ROBERT MUGABE had shut out perceived enemies like the BRITISH Government, the EUROPEAN UNION and the UNITED STATES, he says this will not be the case this time around.

President MNANGAGWA says he has repeated many times that ZIMBABWE is open and transparent; therefore, there is no reason to shut out international observers to the elections with such a pledge.

He says the ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission is winding up the exercise of registering voters, which ends on the 12TH of next month, after which he will announce the election date and the ballots will certainly be before JULY.

ZIMBABWE, during its land reform program 16 years back, left the COMMONWEALTH, also known as the COMMONWEALTH OF NATIONS, an intergovernmental organisation of 52 mostly former BRITISH colonies.

President MNANGAGWA says he intends to re-join the group in his drive to re-engage the international community and return his country’s economy back on track.

He has further told TV-7 ZIMBABWE has no qualms with other countries, including the UNITED STATES, whose President DONALD TRUMP recently called AFRICA a dug-out latrine.

He says the SADC and the AFRICAN UNION offices have responded to Mr TRUMP for the rest of black governments, and he believes the people of ZIMBABWE have no case against the people of AMERICA, or vice versa.

The new ZIMBABWEAN Head of State, who took over the reins of power following the resignation of ROBERT MUGABE after ruling for 37 years, faces a serious task to restore confidence at home and abroad./Sabanews/cam



Fukishima nuclear disaster

LUSAKA – The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency has called on ZAMBIA to embrace the development of Nuclear Science to enhance national productivity.

YUKIYA AMANO says the SADC country has the capacity for growth in the nuclear sector, and his institution will this year send experts to trace the viability of schemes such as atomic energy.

The TIMES OF ZAMBIA newspaper says he has made the call in the capital, LUSAKA, where he met with Higher Education Minister NKANDU LUO to discuss programs his Agency is supporting.

It quotes him as saying most people classify Nuclear Science as something terrible, but he says he would like to share with ZAMBIANS the positive side to the field – possible if well harnessed.

Mr YUKIYA has pledged his institution’s unwavering support to the SADC country in the area of Nuclear Science development.

Minister LUO says her government is planning to establish a Nuclear Science Training Centre in the country to build its performance capacity in the sector.

She says ZAMBIA can benefit much through adopting schemes such as the use of nuclear energy to run certain sectors of the economy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency Director has also met Foreign Affairs Minister JOSEPH MALANJI to discuss diplomatic engagements and global legal instruments related to the Agency technical program.

Science experts agree nuclear power can generate electricity without emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which deplete the ozone layer and cause global warming.

However, GREENPEACE EAST ASIA says there are concerns because nuclear reactors are naturally unsafe as proven by meltdowns like the ones in FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN, in 2011 or CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE, earlier in 1986.

The group says the nuclear plants released large amounts of radiation into the surrounding communities, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate. Moreover, beyond the risks of radioactive waste, the threat of nuclear weapons looms large./Sabanews/cam



LUSAKA – The government of ZAMBIA is helping the Municipality of the capital city, LUSAKA, to deal with rampant street vending in order to clean up the metropolitan and rid it of recurrent cholera infections.

The TIMES OF ZAMBIA newspaper says the authorities have summoned the Army and the Air Force to reinforce LUSAKA City Council in an operation to remove vendors from their traditional sites.

It says hordes of the informal traders have abandoned the streets of the Central Business District and are holed-up in their homes, while the operation has now been extended to outlying townships.

The authorities in LUSAKA are following up with teams to clean up heaps of garbage that had accumulated over years, during which cholera had become a seasonal occurrence.

The TIMES says their operation comes after the number of infections by the killer disease had risen sharply, with many deaths recorded over time.

It says an air of cleanliness is now evident in the CHAWAMA, MISISI, JOHN LAING and JOHN HOWARD areas following the combined efforts of City Council, Army, Air Force and National Service personnel.

Residents have also joined in by collecting refuse around their dwellings in plastic and other bags, which they line up by the roadsides for collection by military trucks organised to do the work.

The TIMES also says mounds of garbage had accumulated to a point of saturation over decades, and the ongoing exercise is likely to rid the environment of only about a THIRD of the long-term pile-up.

It says local authorities used to provide refuse bins that would be collected periodically, but they had since stopped doing so; although towns in the COPPERBELT still enjoy better sanitation due to mining firms operating there.

Town councils elsewhere have been finding refuse collection to be a major challenge, citing lack of funds as their excuse and throwing the blame to the Local Government Ministry.

Nevertheless, uncollected refuse in urban ZAMBIA has resulted in the failure of programs like sewage services and storm drainage systems, and the clean-up exercise is seen as a vital move./Sabanews/cam



RUNDU – Some residents of the Northern NAMIBIA region of KAVANGO-EAST have lately suffered losses from what should have instead, been a relief to them: heavy rains.

NBC News says the regional capital, RUNDU Town, spent the whole of this TUESDAY under viscous downpours accompanied by strong winds.

The rains brought trees crashing to the ground and damaged infrastructure, in some cases blocking traffic and leaving travellers stranded on highways.

NBC News says the rains fell non-stop for TWO days when they uprooted at least FIVE trees, ONE of which fell on top of the RUNDU Secondary School wall and damaged part of it.

While workers from the RUNDU Town Council struggled to clear fallen trees to allow traffic movement, KATUTURA Township in the capital, WINDHOEK, about 716 kilometres southwards, had similar experiences.

NBC News says around the same time when RUNDU residents struggled against the effects of the rains and winds, another tree fell on and damaged a house in KATUTURA, although no one was injured.

It says last month, strong winds that accompanied heavy rains also ripped off a number of roofs of houses built under the government Mass Housing Scheme in the town.

The developments in NAMIBIA come amid reports saying the SADC Region will this season receive rains up to MAY, unlike in the past when the wet spells ended around MARCH.

Weather experts have since advised SADC governments to exchange data that can help deal with disasters usually caused by the heavy downpours characterising the summers in this Climate Change era./Sabanews/cam



Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda

HARARE – The new government of ZIMBABWE says it wants all top officials to declare their assets by 28 FEBRUARY this year.

THE HERALD newspaper says the directive covers ministers, their deputies, permanent secretaries, senior principal directors, board chairpersons, board members, and chief executive officers of State enterprises and parastatals.

It says the move is in line with the vital principles of good corporate governance and it targets chairpersons and members of Constitutional commissions, both executive and independent, and chief executive officers of local authorities as well.

The State-run publication says the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet has issued a statement saying the officials should submit written declarations of their assets by the said date.

MISHECK SIBANDA says documents on the declaration of assets should contain details of all immovable property owned by the public servant or others in which he or she has an interest.

They should also include any item of movable property exceeding 100-THOUSAND US dollars in value, owned or leased by the individual concerned or in which he or she has any other interest.

The statement says officials should also reveal any business in which they have an interest and or in which they play a part in running; and they should clearly state the nature of the interest in the property or business concerned.

Mr SIBANDA says Heads of ministries coordinate the collection and submission of all declarations in respect of designated grades within their ministries, as well as in public entities and Constitutional bodies under their charge.

He says President EMMERSON MNANGAGWA expects the full and urgent cooperation of all affected office bearers, who should further remember his inauguration pledge to create a responsible, transparent, and accountable public service workforce.

Mr SIBANDA says the Head of State has since the 24TH of NOVEMBER last year consistently called for strict devotion to the central principles of good corporate governance.

President MNANGAGWA, who is currently in DAVOS, SWITZERLAND, to attend the World Economic Forum, has also ordered everyone who has externalised funds from the country to return them by the end of next month.

The ZIMBABWEAN Leader has pledged his administration will ensure acts of corruption stop forthwith; and where they occur, the State will deliver swift justice to show that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators./Sabanews/cam



A Balaka North farmer at work

BALAKA – The opposition UNITED DEMOCRATIC FRONT Member of Parliament for BALAKA NORTH Constituency in the SOUTHERN REGION of MALAWI has urged the government to find a lasting solution to the problem of Fall Army Worms.

The NYASA TIMES newspaper says LUCIUS BANDA has visited some of the farmers who have been heavily affected by the notorious caterpillars, which he says keep on destroying thousands of hectares of maize across the country every year.

It says his comments come amid reports saying the Fall Army Worms have ravaged 270-THOUSAND hectares while drought has affected 12 percent of the ONE-POINT-SEVEN-MILLION hectares of maize planted.

Mr BANDA says the country has had this tragedy of Fall Army Worms almost every year, and it is high time the authorities come up with a lasting solution by making the pesticides are always available to farmers.

He says all farmers should try as much as possible and at all times to spray their fields after planting and before the crops are attacked, which should be a tradition the way people always do with fertilizer every year.

BALAKA District Commissioner RODRICK MATEAUMA says Fall Army Worms have destroyed more than 19-THOUSAND hectares of maize in the area, raising strong fears of hunger just like in the previous growing season.

Meanwhile, the TIMES says Mr BANDA has already sent an S.O.S to the government to include in its plans to help the people of BALAKA with relief food items.

He says it is already JANUARY, and there is nothing farmers can do in their affected fields; which means they will be severely hit by hunger, and he is appealing to the authorities to start preparations now to save the people.

The combined effects of Fall Army Worms and drought threaten food production and the economic growth targets in the agro-based economy of MALAWI, with the contribution of agriculture to the GDP pegged at least 30 percent./Sabanews/cam



Northern Namibian communal farmer

WINDHOEK – The EUROPEAN UNION Mission in NAMIBIA has pledged 600-MILLION NAMIBIA dollars (50-MILLION-545-THOUSAND-650 US dollars) to support different programs by farmers in the Northern Communal Area over a period of up to SIX years.

NBC News says some of the agricultural schemes have been going on since 2014 and will be coming to an end this year.

It says the projects include the Communal Land Reform Project, Agriculture Advisory Services, RANGELAND Early Warning and Monitoring System, and the Livestock Marketing Initiative.

The Livestock Sector Support Program and Enhancing Agriculture Governance Initiatives only started last year, and will run until 2023.

EU Ambassador JANA HYBASKOVA has told NBC News the support programs involve both financial and technical support to northern communal farmers, to help them reach an acceptable level of farming.

He says the project will help address disparities in farming, and ensure the farmers produce quality livestock and get good prices on the market.

The NAMIBIA NATIONAL FARMERS’ UNION, ONE of the implementing entities, has expressed hope the programs will respond to the needs of farmers.

The Executive Director of the group, MWILIMA MUSHOKOBANJI, says he believes farmers in the area will be able to market their livestock and get good prices through the Public Procurement Act.

Meanwhile, available information shows about HALF of the NAMIBIAN population depends largely on subsistence agriculture for livelihoods, but the nation must still import some of its food.

Researchers say although its per capita GDP is FIVE times that of AFRICA’s poorest countries, the majority of NAMIBIANS live in rural areas and exist on a subsistence way of life.

NAMIBIA has ONE of the highest rates of income inequalities in the world, partly because of an urban economy and a more rural cashless economy; and while arable land accounts for only ONE percent of the country, nearly HALF of the population works in agriculture.

Records also show about FOUR-THOUSAND, mostly white, commercial farmers own almost 50 percent of the arable land; but GERMANY and BRITAIN have pledged finance when NAMIBIA starts expropriating land to resettle landless blacks.

Help for NAMIBIA is also underway from the GREEN CLIMATE FUND, which is expected to approve about 10-MILLION-951-THOUSAND-558 US dollars next month, to help the country respond to climate change adaptation in the KUNENE Region./Sabanews/cam


When disaster strikes, women and children suffer most
HARARE – Governments in the SADC Region have been urged to improve on information sharing to ensure communities are evacuated on time when weather-related disasters strike.
The Southern AFRICAN Research and Documentation Centre, SARDC, says people expect increased moisture to improve cropping, but floods can destroy crops and disturb food security.
It says excessive rainfall may also increase the incidences of malaria and water-borne diseases in the region as well as the possibility of damage to infrastructure due to flooding.
SARDC says ONE of the challenges still affecting SADC member states is the lack of current and reliable data on possible weather scenarios, resulting in many people getting killed or becoming homeless.
It says there is also need to retrofit, or to add new technology or features to, public infrastructure such as schools – as they act as both centres of learning and as sanctuaries in cases of emergencies such as floods.
The Centre says River Basin Organisations, like the ZAMBEZI WATERCOURSE COMMISSION, ZAMCOM, are making efforts to improve the sharing of information on water flow and climate conditions.
ZAMCOM is in the process of strengthening information sharing in the EIGHT Basin States: ANGOLA, BOTSWANA, MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA, TANZANIA, ZAMBIA and ZIMBABWE.
The involved nations share the data through the ZAMBEZI Water Resources Information System Enhancement THREE: Hydro-meteorological Database and Decision Support System, or ZAMWIS-DSS.
The SARDC says the main objective of the ZAMWIS-DSS is to support the promotion and coordination of the management and development of resources of the ZAMBEZI Watercourse in a sustainable and climate-resilient manner.
Authorities expect that once the system is completed, riparian states will be able to respond better to flood hazards in the future; and the region is taking another measure to set up village-based response systems to respond to floods.
The alert system includes the use of traditional knowledge systems in raising awareness through civic education, like, for example, the appearance of large populations of ants will indicate occurrence of floods.
Weather and other experts say floods may present opportunities to the SADC Region if countries start prioritizing water harvesting projects to harness rains and use the water for agricultural purposes in future, especially during drought years./Sabanews/cam



Results of dry weather in parts of Zimbabwe

GABORONE – The Southern AFRICAN Development Community, SADC Region is likely to continue to receive rains until MAY this year, unlike previously when the wet spells ended in MARCH or APRIL.

The Southern AFRICAN Research and Documentation Centre, SARDC, says the information is in the 21ST Southern AFRICA Regional Climate Outlook Forum Mid-season Review and Update released in DECEMBER.

The study says most parts of the SADC may receive more rainfall from JANUARY to MAY 2018, a welcome development, mainly in the southern parts of the region where low rainfall caused delays in planting and crop moisture stress in some areas.

It says in areas such as Southern MOZAMBIQUE, Southern ZAMBIA, and the whole of ZIMBABWE, crops are already showing signs of moisture stress due to the prevailing dry spells.

SARDC also quotes reports from NAMIBIA as saying low rainfall has caused deterioration of grazing pastures, while other affected farmers in the SADC Region are beginning to worry about the effect of the current erratic rains on crop production.

However, almost the whole of the region has more chances of normal to above-normal rains from JANUARY to MARCH, with normal to below-normal rains in the south-westernmost parts of ANGOLA and the western fringes of both NAMIBIA and SOUTH AFRICA.

Experts expect North-western DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO and the easternmost parts of MADAGASCAR to have increased chances of normal to below-normal rainfall during the period MARCH to MAY 2018.

They say most areas of the northern and north-eastern parts of the region received above normal rains, whereas the central and south-western parts like BOTSWANA and ZIMBABWE received less rainfall during the OCTOBER to NOVEMBER 2017 period.

Their update shows the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, the main rain-bearing mechanism for Southern AFRICA, is still very active and is centred over the northern and eastern parts of the SADC Region.

They also say there is a possibility farmers who planted late may harvest good yields, considering that rainfall is likely to end in MAY.

However, the SARDC says the Mid-season Review and Update is only relevant to seasonal time scales as well as relatively large areas; and may not fully account for all local and intra-seasonal factors that influence weather patterns.

The organisation says it is crucial for farmers and other users of climate information in the SADC Region to contact their national meteorological and hydrological offices for better interpretation and regular updates./Sabanews/cam